Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just for Fun

Another watercolor study of Lilo and Stitch I did last year.
It always fascinates me how subtle as well as bold you can be when applying watercolors.
Brings back fun memories from a film that has the chance to become a classic.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hook and Smee II

Here are a few more of Frank Thomas' rough character layouts for the second half of the scene. The sketch above establishes the size relationship between Hook and Smee.

Hook anticipates a reach toward the bewildered Smee.

He then extends his arm to get a hold of Smee.

Hook reacts to the crows nest announcement that Peter Pan is approaching. 
His attention now lees with Smee, instead he is processing what he just heard.

He then drops Smee , turns toward the crows nest  to give an order.

All this is so carefully staged and timed out in the animation, that you are never in doubt about what the characters are thinking.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hook and Smee

What a terrific photostat!
The actors are Hans Conried as Hook and Don Barcley as Mr Smee.
This is an absolutely crazy scene. Smee believes that he cut off Hook's head while giving him a shave. Then, when he finds the head under the chair, he tries to pick it up while informing Hook's body toward screen right about his luck. 
Character animation doesn't get any better than this! This stuff is right up there with Chaplin and Marcel Marceau. A nutty situation performed in a completely believable way. You don't even sense any live action reference, because the broad animation totally stands on its own. 
Here's to Frank and Ollie!!
They went back and forth animating this scene. Frank started out by staging Hook. He threw in a few poses for Smee, but Ollie did his own acting for that character.

These clean up keys are scans from "The Illusion of Life". 
I just love the fact that while Smee tries to pull out Hook's head, his attention is toward screen right, because that's where he last saw Hook's body.
One of my favorite animated scenes, Animation Gold!!!
Drawings from right to left:

More on the second half of the scene in the next post.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fritz Hug 2

It has been a long time since I posted any wildlife art from the great Swiss painter Fritz Hug.
Here is the link to my first post on him:

These charming spot illustrations were published in the 1966 book "Tiere, meine taeglichen Gefaehrten" (Animals, my daily Companions).
The technique is brush and ink, and I see a combination of confidence and carefully observed subtleties. There isn't an animal he couldn't draw or paint with great believability.
The angularity in his work helps to bring out the specific anatomy of the animal. And those ink splashes are a trademark of his.
I purchased an oversized print showing a tiger recently, would love to own an original sketch sometime.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jungle Book Recording Session Break

There aren't many people I recognize in this casual setting. In the back is Milt Kahl, arms raised, in the center smiles Ollie Johnston, arms crossed, and I believe Ken Anderson sits on the right with his head half obscured by someone else. (Perhaps Floyd Norman can identify the rest.)
The boards show Anderson's designs for King Louie and Baloo, dressed in drag disguise. 
So the voice artists being recorded that day might have been Louis Prima and Phil Harris, who performed the Sherman brothers' song "I wanna be like you!", one of the highlights of the film.
It looks to me the location could be Sound Stage A or B on the Disney lot.
In later years I was present for many recording sessions there, which involved my characters.
Seems like we had better catering than what I see in the photo. Beside coffee there was never a shortage of fresh fruit, bagels, cookies and sandwiches.
And that was necessary, because those recording sessions could last for many hours.
For final dialogue directors and animators prefer to choose from a number of takes, to pick out the one that sounds just perfect.

Looking at this photo is like time travel, a moment during early production from a film that would change my life.

A closer look at some of Ken Anderson's character designs for this hilarious sequence.

More Jungle Book production art can be found in Pierre Lambert's wonderful coffee table book,
Le Livre de la Jungle:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pinocchio Story Sketches

I would really like to know who the Disney story artist is who was responsible for the beautiful sketch above and the storyboard below. The style with its rendered characters looks familiar, I believe it is someone, who only worked on Disney's Golden Age features before leaving the studio.
I can't get over the expressive poses, appealing and beautifully staged. 

Animators like Norm Ferguson were smart enough to take advantage of this great material and applied the dynamic acting in these poses to their animation.
A few lively Ferguson roughs, the last two are extremes for a planned piece of action.
By drawing so loosely the animator is free to focus on the character's emotion and the overall entertainment. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


To many Marie, Berlioz and Toulouse might not be considered classic Disney characters, but when The Aristocats premiered way back, the film was enthusiastically received, particularly in Europe.
I understand that by now Marie has become quite the star in Japan.
Ken Anderson did tons of exploratory drawings of the kittens. These color sketches give you an idea about his process, and how he tried to differentiate the three from each other through proportions, attitudes and coloring.

The following five sheets show Milt Kahl's first attempts to adapt Ken's designs for animation.
I remember senior clean up artist Chuck Williams telling me how surprised he and others were, when the final designs were approved. "Oh, is THAT what they are going to look like?" was his reaction. Obviously Chuck had expected something different.
I find these preliminary drawings by Milt very charming. They were drawn on small note pad paper sheets, 6" x 8 1/4" with a super sharp pencil, probably during a story meeting.
The fluffyness of Marie's fur was later streamlined to avoid complicated line mileage.

In these drawings you see Milt helping Ollie Johnston with design and drawing issues.
Ollie animated key personality scenes with the kittens in sequences like the singing lesson and Berlioz painting Edgar's portrait.
I really enjoy the believable child like behavior in Ollie's animation, and I love Marie's diva attitudes.